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Discussion Starter #1
I guess I just need to take a break for awhile. Sorry for this long rant, but maybe it will help prevent the same things from happening to someone else. What follows is a fairly comprehensive list of every problem I've had since attempting my 390 engine rebuild, culminating in today's proverbial straw that has broken my back and spirit:

1. Engine pulled from car last fall, disassembled, taken to machine shop and everything seems fine. Spend lots of cash on new parts and machine work.
2. Get block back from machine shop and ready to begin reassembly. Final cleanup of engine and I notice a hole in one of my cylinder walls. Block back to machine shop to be sleeved.
3. Get block back and reassemble engine. Notice I put half of the pistons in backwards (notch on top of piston facing the wrong way). Fix that.
4. Finish reassembly and ready to put engine back into car. Bought FPA long tube headers. Wasted a whole day trying to get the engine and headers into the car.
5. Next day, finally get engine and headers into the car. Reassemble all accessories and wires. Spend hours just trying to get the car to start. Timing way off, but about dark get it running.
6. Begin putting miles on the engine. At about 600 miles, notice a strange, intermittant ticking sound. Shortly thereafter, bearing on water pump breaks, fan chunks into radiator. Ruined radiator and fan.
7. Two month fight with car store because I want refund for radiator and fan, not just water pump. Finally settle with them for $300. In the meantime, buy Griffin radiator (thanks Shaun) and spal fan.
8. Install radiator and fan. Wired direct to battery just so I could get the car home. By the time I get home, I've killed either the alternator or the voltage regulator. Also, notice coolant spewing from A/C condensation hose from the heater core.
9. Bypass heater core; buy new one from NPD to be installed before winter. Buy new alternator (powermaster 100). Install alternator. Spend day breaking 3 alternator belts before figuring out the problem (pulley not quite lined up and belt not tight enough).
10. TODAY: Happy as a clam, get up early to go for long drive so that I can keep putting miles on the new engine. Almost home when I hear a bad, bad noise, engine stumbles, at least one cylinder not firing right, immediately pull over and shut engine off. Discover that a shim that I'm using to hold on my oval Cobra air cleaner came loose and shot into the carb. Call AAA to get tow home.
11. Take carb off, pray that I can find shim with magnet. No luck. Take off intake; no shim. Take off passenger head; find shim in #4 cylinder. Top of my brand new piston is all mucked up with dings and scratches. Take break; successful in trying not to cry. The #4 piston is near the top and I don't have the energy right now to turn the engine over to see if I've also scored the cylinder wall. Even if I haven't, still need a new piston which requires engine removal and need to take a look at intake valve to see if it's hosed.
12. Cover engine with plastic and push car into garage. Who knows when I'll open the garage again.

I can't tell if it is me with the curse, or the car. Either way, I need to take a break. I've spent virtually every weekend for the past 6 months working on the car. To have this happen is just too much.

Sorry for the long rant. May take a break from VMF for awhile as well. Need to regain my spirit.

Regards,
Chris
 

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God Chris, sorry for all your problums, bad bad deal. Just take a small break and start again. Things have a way of working out just keep your chin up.

Think about this, a lot of people would'ent even try what you are doing, Give your self credit, you are doing this yourself. If it was easy, every one would be doing it.

Its a hobby, when you get it done you will be proud.
 

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Don't give up! I understand your frustration. Should you discover the cylinder wall is not toast, a new piston can be installed without the necessity of pulling the engine. I've done it! That gives you at least some potential bright light on the situation.
 

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well that sucks ,, if i lived near i would offer my time to help out.keep your spirit about you,god works in mysterious ways you might have gotten detoured from a horrible accident. Lets get A PIT CREW OF vmfers in his area and get this man going again...... ::
 

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hang in there.... you know what they say " sh*t happens"... just hang tough and it will all work out in th end for you. i have recetly myself been sh*tted on in just about every way possible in life but... " at least you have your health "!!!
 

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sounds like a good time to get wasted, just kidding, i'd just give it a rest for a few days at least, and remind myself this is a hobby, a very hard one, especially with all the work you've done. I always try to look at every misfortune or mistake as a learning exprience, if i don't, i'd be dead right now.
 

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On a side note , if you can remove the pan then you can repair it in car if the cylinder wall is not toasted . If it is not scored up you can hone the cylinder and install a new piston with new rings . You likely can use your old connecting rod again , just make sure it's not bent ( have the machine shop check it) . Id get the 2 valves in that cylinder replaced also , just to be safe and valves are not real expensive compared to what the head of a valve will do if it pops off .
I don't think Id return the washer to it's "shim" position ..
Why did you need it there if you don't mind me asking ?
 

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I hope you don't get too discouraged. So far, there is no extreme damage done, and as someone already mentioned, the piston can be replaced without pulling the engine if you want.

Just consider this: Almost everybody on the forum with a lot of experience wrenching on engines has had a lot of distressing screw-ups. That is how you get the experience. :p Defective new parts, inept machine shops, inexperienced guy on the end of the wrench, this is how we all learn. So, you now have a lot of experience that you didn't have before starting the project. You will now know that belts and pulleys have to be lined up and true. You will never again install pistons in backwards, or put anything above the carb intake that can come loose and get into the engine. That's some good experience.

It sounds like this may be the first engine project for you. Every one after this will be a lot easier, and have fewer problems. Take a breather, then pull the pan so you can replace that piston. The cyl will probably be OK. A few shiny spots don't count, as long as you can't feel them with your fingernail or tips of the fingers. It will clean up. I once had a valve pop off on a 351 C, and it only required a valve, piston, and a little cleanup with a grinder on the head.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Okay, so I lasted all of an hour before I went back out to take a look at the car.

First, thanks for all of the quick words of encouragement and advice. That's the main reason I love this forum.

Second, I turned the engine over and it doesn't look like the cylinder wall was effected. So, now I just have to hope that I can lift the engine enough to get the oil pan off without having to take the engine all of the way out of the car. I'll probably wait until next weekend so that I can re-energize my committment to this freakin' car.

Of course, as a dutiful VMF'er, I'll keep everyone posted in case I come across something that will help others in the future.

Thanks again to all for the encouragement.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The shims were put on by the prior owner. I bought the car about 18 months ago and haven't had any problems with them. Basically, the reason for the shims is as follows: To hold the lower part of the oval air cleaner on the carb, there is a U-shaped piece of metal that is bolted to the center stud on the carb. On my carb, without the shims, the "legs" of the U were not long enough to secure the bottom plate of the air cleaner after tightening the U down onto the carb. The PO put two pieces of metal, one under each "leg" of the U, and that solved the problem.

In retrospect, I now see that I should have either: bought a new U thingee that was the right length, or used a self-locking nut/lock washer on the center carb stud.

Lessons . . . lessons . . . lessons . . .
 

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Hang in there Chris, you do own a car many people fantasize about owning. If you keep at it, sooner or later, you will have and enjoy the car you have envisioned. Many, many people will envy you for having your car. It's a piece of history.
It's the old saying, if it were easy, (cheap), to have a vintage Mustang, everyone would have one. Good luck!
 

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Chris,
I can relate to the problems you have faced, I went through some issues on my 69 Mach 390. I have a question, how did you manage to remove the head on a 390 with it installed in the car? Just persevere and it will all work out, trust me, I felt the same way for awhile.

Mike
 

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I've finally heard of someone having the same luck as myself. I thought I was all alone in this endever we call a "hobby". Just when I think I'm done or it's 100% - it breaks or leads to more. Hey, at least we own a Mustang, tons of wanna-bes out there without one. I'd help also if I was'nt so far away from you. Good Luck, Bill Las Vegas Nevada
 

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Discussion Starter #19
As for head removal, a lot of cussing, twisting, poking, and prodding. After removing the support brace, valve cover, rocker arm, push rods and intake related pieces, the hardest part was getting the 14 bolts for the headers loose. Yeah, the same 14 bolts that I spent hours on trying to get tightened the first time. I'm really looking forward to that exercise after I get the piston replaced.

Again, thanks to all for the encouragement. Why can't I just quit and buy any old POS?!?! :p
 
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